Are you ready to start a career?
Sure, you have a degree, you have some basic work experience, but do you know how to set yourself up for success from the get-go?
I am SO excited to have Patty Moore on the blog today because, frankly, I have no idea what it’s like to work in the corporate world! I graduated university and started working online from home in a family business–so I know a lot about entrepreneurial work, but not a ton about jobs with benefits!
Patty’s got some great stuff for us today, and I hope this helps you start your first “real” job off right!
When it comes down to starting your first ‘real’ job, there are a lot of things that no one really ever takes the time to tell you.
Jump starting your career after graduation is really fun and exciting, but it can also be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t really know the ins and outs of the working world. Side jobs during high school or college pale in comparison to your first actual job in the field that you worked so hard to get into while working on furthering your education.
With that in mind, there are seven things that I wish I knew before I started my first real job in the working world. Let’s take a closer look at these things, so that you may be able to start out on the right foot with the right knowledge.
1. Salary Negotiation is Key
The salary negotiation process with a potential employer can make a break a person’s career. While it may not seem like much, the difference of $5,000 in starting salary can make a huge difference over the lifetime of a career. While negotiations with salary are very important, and you don’t want to sell yourself short, negotiating benefits and other incentives with the employer is just as important. Brush up on those negotiation skills!
2. Ask about Student Loans Repayment Benefits
Speaking of benefits, student loan repayment benefits are offered by many employers and in increasing number. Sometimes, companies may not be up front with you about these benefits and their availability. Always ask a potential employer if they offer any sort of student loan repayment options for you to consider. If they do, definitely take advantage of it so that you can get those student loans paid off sooner. Many companies offer matching contributions, so every payment you make gets doubled.
3. The Importance of Flexibility and Adaptability
When you take that first step into the working world, it is really important to be flexible and adaptable in many situations. Flexibility is a strong point because the work force is always changing and growing, and you have to really be able to keep up and adapt to these changes if you want to be successful. The more flexible you are, the more valuable you may be to a company. On the flipside, the more flexible you are, the least likely you are to be sidelined by getting laid off by your company!
4. Networking Can Take You Further
While you may have a great skill set for a particular job opportunity, you may not always be recognized for just your skill sets. Networking can take things a step further for you. Consider making genuine connections with people that you come across in your personal and business life. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you may find. Your networking relationships will not just be one sided either, you may prove to be beneficial to someone else within your network.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I made the mistake of comparing myself to just about everyone that I was envious of in my workplace. This is wrong on so many levels because it really just makes you feel inferior, and that isn’t the right mindset for the workplace where teamwork is needed. There is nothing wrong with admiring a characteristic that someone possesses, but to compare yourself to them is only doing you an injustice. Open yourself up to your potential for greatness without comparing yourself to everyone else’s highlight reel!
6. Utilizing Retirement Benefits is a Must
Touching again briefly on benefits, taking advantage of retirement benefits offered by your employer is always a great idea. They may have options available such as 401K and other retirement plans. Whether you choose a traditional retirement savings account like the 401k or opt for something a bit more profitable and risky, make sure that you contribute regularly. Find out if your employer offers matching contributions. Just like the student loan repayment benefits, you can double the pace if a company offers this!
7. Bonus Tip for Student Debtors– Student Loan Consolidation and Refinancing Options
Another important factor you should consider after graduation is student loan consolidation and refinancing options that may be available to you. Federal consolidation loans are made available for debtors that wish to combine their loans, making it easier to cover their monthly payments. Private student loan refinancing is another potential option to consider; it offers the same baseline benefits of a federal loan and something else entirely. If done right, you can lower the interest rate on your loans, but you must be creditworthy in the eyes of the lender. Needless to say, if you can drop your interest rate, then you stand to save money!
These are just a few of the things that I wish I knew before I started my first real job. If you are taking that first leap into the job force, then you may be happy to know these things ahead of time.
Patty Moore is a blogger who writes about careers, family, and personal finances. Follow Patty on Twitter @WorkMomLife!
What are some things you wish you knew before starting your first “real” job? What are some tips that have helped you? Share them in the comments below–let’s help each other out!
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